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Alabama Crimson Tide: Best Wins in the Saban Era

It’s better to address the media after a win versus a loss. Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban has managed to excel in this area since 2007.  In six seasons, Saban has posted a 78-15 record, including three national titles and two conference championships.

Though it’s not easy to dominate teams in the Southeastern Conference, Saban wears it well. Here is a list recapping some of the best wins for Alabama under Saban.

Best Wins in the Saban Era

  • #8 Alabama vs. #3 Georgia (2008: Blackout Game)
  1. John Parker Wilson : 1316 passing, 205 yards, one touchdown
  2. Glenn Coffee: 23 carries, 86 yards,  2 TDs
  3. Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch each had a touchdown
  4. Julio Jones: Five receptions, 94 yards, one touchdown
  5. Alabama won 41-30

Summary: Alabama vs. Georgia was the first game that Tide fans got to see what the 2008 recruiting class was capable of. Julio Jones put on a show against A.J. Green and Mark Ingram scored a touchdown on the ground. This game put Alabama football back in the national spotlight was the first building block toward the dynasty.

  • #1 Alabama vs. #16 LSU (2008: Saban’s return to the Bayou)
  1. John Parker Wilson: 15/31 passing, 215 yards, one interception (two rushing touchdowns)
  2. Glenn Coffee: 26 carries, 126 yards, one touchdown
  3. Julio Jones: 7 receptions, 128 yards
  4. Rashad Johnson: three interceptions (tied school record), one touchdown
  5. Alabama won 26-21 in overtime

Summary: He was greeted with boos and animosity, but Saban was victories in first trip back to Tiger Stadium since his coaching days at LSU (2000-04). John Parker Wilson didn’t do much, but he did enough to win the game. Glenn Coffee and Julio Jones put in great numbers; however it was Rashad Johnson that stole the show. Johnson intercepted LSU’s quarterback Jarrett Lee three times, including a 54-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

  • #2 Alabama vs. Tennessee (2009: Rocky Block)
  1. Greg McElroy: 18/29 passing, 120 yards
  2. Mark Ingram: 18 carries, 99 yards
  3. Julio Jones: 7 receptions, 54 yards
  4. Leigh Tiffin: 4/4 on field goals
  5. Terrence Cody: two blocked field goals
  6. Alabama won 12-10

Summary: Sometimes it’s good to be a little lucky and have the ball bounce your way. Jonathan Crompton and the Volunteers controlled the game. Offensively, Tennessee outgained Alabama 341—256.  It’s unlikely that a 400-pound man would be a hero, but don’t tell that to Terrence Cody. Cody blocked two Daniel Lincoln field goals. His second block made him a household name in Tuscaloosa. With 0:04 remaining in the game, Cody blocked Lincoln’s 49-yard field goal attempt. Alabama won the game 12-10 and rode the momentum by the fingernail into 2010 BCS National Championship Game.

  • #1 Florida vs. #2 Alabama (2009: SEC Championship Game)
  1. Greg McElroy: 12/18 passing, 239 yards, one touchdown
  2. Mark Ingram: 28 carries, 113 yards, three touchdowns (two receptions, 76 yards)
  3. Trent Richardson: 11 carries, 80 yards
  4. Marquis Maze: Five receptions, 96 yards
  5. Colin Peek: Three receptions, 39 yards, one touchdown
  6. Alabama won 32-13

Summary: Goliath [Tim Tebow] was gentle in this case, yet it was still a battle between David and Goliath.  In the 2008 SEC title game, Alabama loss to Florida 31-20. 2009 served as the Year of Redemption. This game had it all, from McElroy tight roping the sideline to Ingram gashing the Gators’ defense. Defensive back Javier Arenas put the nail in the coffin after intercepting Tebow’s pass in the endzone. Three things remained when the smoke cleared. Ingram became the clear cut Heisman winner, Tebow agonized in defeat and the Crimson Tide clinched its first conference title since 1992.

  • #1 Alabama vs. #2 Texas (2010: BCS National Championship Game)
  1. Greg McElroy: 6/11 passing, 58 yards
  2. Mark Ingram: 22 carries, 116 yards, two touchdowns
  3. Trent Richardson: 19 carries, 109 yards, two touchdowns
  4. Javier Arenas: two interceptions
  5. Marcell Dareus: Knocked out Colt McCoy (first quarter), one interception
  6. Alabama won 37-21

Summary: Two of the best coaches in college football battled for ultimate supremacy under the California sunset. With McElroy struggling, Ingram and Richardson took over. Both backs rushed for 100+ yards and two scores. Before the game, Dareus said to his teammates that he was going to get the MVP Award. He lowered the boom on McCoy in the first quarter. McCoy didn’t return and the Tide’s defense ran loose on Garrett Gilbert. With 0:03 remaining in the first half, Dareus intercepts Gilbert’s pass and takes it 28 yards for a touchdown. Alabama notched its 13th national title and first title since Gene Stallings and Paul Bryant.

  • #2 Alabama vs.  Auburn (2009: The Drive)
  1. Greg McElroy: 21/31 passing, 218 yards, two touchdowns
  2. Trent Richardson: 15 carries, 51 yards, one touchdown
  3. Julio Jones: 9 receptions, 83 yards
  4. Roy Upchurch: two receptions, 15 yards, one touchdown
  5. Alabama won 26-21

Summary: After a 24-15 victory over the Tigers, the Tide went to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on Auburn. Alabama got punched in the mouth early with trickery and deep passes, but the Tide hung in there.  With scores from Trent Richardson, Colin Peek and Leigh Tiffin, Alabama found itself down 21-20 in the fourth quarter. McElroy engineered a drive with a little over 7 minutes remaining in the game. The drive started with passes to Jones and ended with a 5-yard pass to Roy Upchurch in the endzone for a touchdown. The victory over Auburn helped the Tide punch its ticket into the 2009 SEC Championship Game.

  • #3 Alabama vs. #23 Penn State (2011)
  1. AJ McCarron: 19/31 passing, 163 yards, one touchdown
  2. Trent Richardson: 26 carries, 111 yards, two touchdowns
  3. Marquis Maze: Four receptions, 42 yards
  4. Michael Williams: Three receptions, 34 yards, one touchdown
  5. Alabama won 27-11

Summary: 2011 unveiled AJ McCarron as the Tide’s starting quarterback. He distributed the ball well and Richardson performed well in the run game. Alabama’s offensive line dominated Penn State’s defense. Nick Saban emerged the victor on the road against the late Joseph “Joe” Paterno.

  • #1 LSU vs. #2 Alabama (2012: BCS National Championship Game)
  1. AJ McCarron: 24/34 passing,  234 yards
  2. Trent Richardson: 20 carries, 96 yards,  one touchdown
  3. Kevin Norwood: Four receptions, 78 yards
  4. Jeremy Shelley: 5/7 on field goals (set a BCS bowl game record)
  5. Alabama won 21-0

Summary: Saban won’t admit it, but revenge was the calling card in the 2012 BCS title game. After losing to LSU 9-6 in the 2011 regular season, Alabama dominated the Tigers in the championship game. McCarron went from game manager to leader, Norwood became a clutch receiver, Shelley set a BCS bowl game record and the Tide’s defense allowed 92 yards to LSU. Alabama forced two turnovers and the Tigers crossed the 50-yard line once. The Crimson Tide and notched its 14th national title.

  • #2 Alabama vs. #8 Michigan (2012: Cowboys Classic)
  1. AJ McCarron: 11/21 passing, 199 yards, two touchdowns
  2. TJ Yeldon: 11 carries, 111 yards, one touchdown
  3. Kevin Norwood: Three receptions, 53 yards
  4. Alabama won 41-14

Summary: Everything is bigger in Texas. The Cowboys Classic was a grand event and Alabama showed up ready for it. McCarron did his job through the air and Yeldon racked up 100+ yards rushing in his debut. Alabama outgained Michigan 431—269 and the Tide’s defense intercepted Denard Robinson three times.

  •  #1 Alabama vs.  #5 LSU (2012: The Drive “McCarron Edition”)
  1. AJ McCarron: 14/27 passing,  165 yards,  one touchdown (one rushing score)
  2. Eddie Lacy: 11 carries, 85 yards, one touchdown
  3. Yeldon: 11 carries, 76 yards
  4. Kevin Norwood: Five receptions, 62 yards
  5. Alabama won 21-17

Summary: It was McCarron’s worst game statistically, but he got the job done. Lacy and Yeldon did damage on the ground, but it was Norwood who became the hero. He caught three passes on the final drive. His third reception helped set up a game-winning 28-yard screen pass from McCarron to Yeldon.

  •  #2 Alabama vs.  #3 Georgia (2012: SEC Championship Game)
  1. AJ McCarron: 13/21 passing,  162 yards,  one touchdown,  one interception
  2. Eddie Lacy: 20 carries, 181 yards, two touchdowns
  3. Amari Cooper: Eight receptions, 128 yards, one touchdown
  4. Alabama won 32-28

Summary: AJ McCarron emerged the victor in the battle against Aaron Murray. Lacy and Yeldon torched Georgia’s defense. Both backs recorded 150+ yards rushing. Amari Cooper shined on the big stage and sealed the deal with a 45-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. McCarron won his first SEC title as a starting quarterback.

  •  #1 Notre Dame vs.  #2 Alabama (2013: BCS National Championship Game)
  1. AJ McCarron: 20/28 passing,  264 yards,  four touchdowns
  2. Eddie Lacy: 20 carries, 140 yards, one touchdown
  3. Amari Cooper: Six receptions, 108 yards, two touchdowns
  4. Alabama won 42-14

Summary: Before the game, Notre Dame had the No. 1 defense in the nation. After the smoke cleared, it was evident that Alabama’s offense was too much for them. McCarron’s aerial attack was crisp and the run game was dominant. The Tide secured its 15th national title and McCarron’s second as a starter.

  •  #1Alabama vs.  #6 Texas A&M (2013: The Shootout)
  1. AJ McCarron: 20/29 passing,  334 yards,  four touchdowns
  2. TJ Yeldon: 25 carries,  149 yards,  one touchdown
  3. DeAndrew White: Four receptions, 82 yards, one touchdown
  4. Alabama won 49-42

Summary: Payback can be special. It was sweet for McCarron, but bitter for Johnny Manziel. Manziel embarrassed McCarron in 2012 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but McCarron returned the favor at Kyle Field. Manziel was intercepted twice. McCarron had a flawless game and Yeldon did work on the ground.

Honorable Mentions:

  • #1 Alabama over Auburn 36-0 (2008 Iron Bowl)
  • #16 Alabama over #9 Michigan State 49-7 (2010 Capital One Bowl)
  • #3 Alabama over #9 LSU 24-15 (2009)
  • #1 Alabama over # 21 Ole Miss 25-0 (2013)
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